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Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
June 2007


Drug distribution from Houston will very likely increase as Mexican DTOs increase their influence in the eastern United States. The Houston HIDTA region is uniquely positioned along transportation routes that facilitate transportation of drug shipments from Mexico to eastern markets. Cocaine and marijuana will continue to be the primary drugs smuggled into the HIDTA region from Mexico; however, the transshipment of ice methamphetamine through the area will increase to meet the growing demand for the drug in markets throughout the United States.

The diversion and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs from the HIDTA region will increase, primarily because of an increase in the number of pain clinics operating in the Houston area; Internet pharmacies will also most likely contribute to the increased availability of pharmaceuticals in the area. Additionally, pharmacy distribution networks from Houston to southeastern states have been established and will continue to facilitate distribution.

Houston will remain one of the predominant money laundering areas in the United States and will quite likely experience an increase in money laundering activities as Mexican DTOs operating in the HIDTA region increase their distribution of cocaine, marijuana, and ice methamphetamine to eastern markets. Bulk cash smuggling will remain the primary method used by Mexican DTOs to launder drug proceeds because of the HIDTA region's close proximity to the Southwest Border and the lack of inspection of outbound vehicles traveling to Mexico.8

The amount of drugs transported from the HIDTA region to Louisiana could increase if the drug distribution networks developed between traffickers in Houston and New Orleans remain in place. Law enforcement in the HIDTA region will most likely seize increasing amounts of illicit drugs destined for New Orleans.

The production of high-grade marijuana in the Houston HIDTA region may increase. The March 2006 seizure of a sophisticated indoor grow in the Houston area run by two Asian individuals is atypical for Houston. Asian DTOs are increasingly cultivating cannabis and producing high-potency marijuana in the United States. This seizure indicates that Asian DTOs may be using the Houston area for cultivating high-potency marijuana. Additionally, Asian DTOs have established marijuana and MDMA distribution networks in Houston that would help to facilitate distribution of the drug from the HIDTA region.

End Note

8. Law enforcement resources are concentrated on screening inbound rather than outbound passengers and cargo, primarily as a result of the heightened focus on terrorism.

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